Why I am not crazy in love with being radical


I have a confession to make. I’m not a huge fan of the book Radical.

Now before you stone me, brand me a heretic, or excommunicate me from the church, let me explain.

I live in a small town. Only two traffic signals. The local gas station also offers minnows and take-out pizza (which is good). And in my town is a really small church. No more than 50 people or so. They’ve recently been going through the study Radical, and one of its members recently commented to me, “I can’t go sell my home. Then you’d have one more homeless person in need of ministry.”

I know the comment was tongue-in-cheek, but it does highlight a major problem in the Christian community today: the exaltation of “celebrity” ministry.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve met the author of Radical, sat on a panel discussion with his wife. They’re great people. They would never put themselves on a pedestal as more important than others. But their popularity–fueled by the resonance of their message–has created the faulty idea that unless you sell your home, adopt orphans, or create a social enterprise, you’re not fulfilling the call of God to care for others.

We as a Christian community have focused so much on major movers and social shakers that we’ve forgotten that the church was founded by a bunch of uneducated fishermen who didn’t really know what they were doing. The history of Christianity has been propelled forward by millions of anonymous people who were just doing their small thing where they could, however they could. They saw needs and met them.

Take my mother-in-law, for example (she’s going to kill me when she reads this, so this may be my last post). She’s never been highlighted in a magazine, her story never told at a conference or on a Webcast. You wouldn’t recognize her in the airport.

Unless you’re one of the people she’s helped.

She volunteers at my daughter’s school and takes her octogenarian neighbor to the doctor. She fixes meals for underprivileged kids who need to eat on the weekend. She sings in the church choir and changes out the wreaths in the fellowship hall when the seasons change.

Yet, by the standards of our Christian culture, she’s not doing enough. She’s not radical enough, not crazy in love with Jesus enough. She doesn’t qualify for the top ten list of most influential Christians (yes, that list exists).

We’ve replaced anonymous, do-what-you-can-right-where-you-are servanthood with banners and headlines and awards and book deals, making people like my mother-in-law (and me and you) wondering if her small acts of service really matter.

If you’ve ever asked that question, the answer is a resounding yes.

Just ask the kid who will get to eat this weekend because of one anonymous woman.

To quote a not-so-anonymous woman, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” (Mother Teresa)

So go and love. Love deeply. Care for others right where you are, even though you’ll never make the front page. You are Jesus with skin on. And every small act of love matters.

You matter.


3 thoughts on “Why I am not crazy in love with being radical

  1. You are so right Pam. The humble folks who go about their ministry and nobody knows but The Lord….they are my heroes!!

  2. Oh, Pam!!!! You expressed my heart soooooooooooo well concerning the books Radical and Crazy Love. When I read both of these books (a couple of years ago), I felt sick inside, and almost like they were telling me to become a “socialist Christian.” Reading the reviews and watching related videos, as far as I could tell, I was the ONLY ONE who felt this way. Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon, doing the studies in their churches, etc. (BTW, I read the books independantly when they were first published, and had a really hard time with the “bandwagons” when they started. Our church also led the studies, and since I had already read the books, I chose not to attend, knowing how I already felt.)

    I pray for and “do” what I can for as many as I can, but I am disabled by Behcet’s disease and have a multitude of medical bills that cause us to go from paycheck to paycheck. These books made me almost “depressed” and “guilty” that I wasn’t DOing more. (I think those feelings were not feelings of “conviction” but feelings of disCOURAGEment from the devil.) Over the 47 years I’ve been a Christian, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to “be” as it is to “do.” THANK YOU for writing this blog and confirming to me that I’m not a “bad Christian” when I don’t sell my house and live in a hut. We, in fact, built our house (during our 25th. anniversary year) so we could open it to overnight and long-term guests (most of which have been missionaries who are in transition stateside between appointments). It has been a blessing to share what I believe the Lord has given us. Maybe it’s right for some people to do what the books mention, but for us, serving begins here with what God has provided.

    May God continue to bless your leadership of youth in your church. I hope their parents realize how blessed they are to have someone with not only “wisdom” but also “understanding” at the helm. (“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7)


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